Football is a tough, physical game that can lead to injuries, but one team in KELOLAND is using their heads to help cut down on the impact of hits. The University of Sioux Falls has started wearing Guardian Caps during some practices.
At first glance, you might think someone screwed up when making these helmets. The padding is supposed to go inside, not outside. But what's outside is known as a Guardian Cap and several schools including the University of Sioux Falls are testing them out.
"Clemson and South Carolina, to name a couple, were using them last year. We thought we'd give them a try this spring. Nothing ever is going to prevent a concussion in football. You're going to have contact, any time you have a contact sport you're going to have it," USF Head Coach Jed Stugart said.
While they don't prevent concussions, Guardian Caps says these soft-shell covers have been proven to reduce the impact of hits by 33-percent. Stugart is only employing them during specific types of practices at the moment.
"We use these for our non-contact days when we're not scrimmaging, a lot of times to prevent the head whips into the ground or a knee to the side of the head if a kid falls down. Our scrimmage days we don't wear them," Stugart said.
Stugart would like to see more research done on the caps before adding them to full contact drills to make sure the covers don't restrict player movement. Until then, his guys will continue to use them in spots and they seem to be working.
"So far we've kind of liked that we've made it through. We've had some guys hit the ground and popped right up. You never know if it's that. We're going to try to do everything we can. If there's anything that gets more safety for our players, we're going to try it out," Stugart said.
Currently more than 21,000 players across the country at the high school and collegiate level are wearing Guardian Caps.